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Application Notes

Prospective Applicants

Please note: There is a December 1st application deadline—fall admission only.

The Program admits students to work with specific faculty members. BCaN student do not rotate through multiple labs prior to selecting their mentor. Prospective students should contact faculty pursuing research topics of interest and inquire if they are accepting students in the coming year and possibly arrange to discuss research options directly with the prospective mentor.


The department tries to fund all the PhD students in the BCAN program. These funds are based on merit and come from American University or personal grants. They cover full tuition as well as a stipend, which includes a Teaching Assistantship. If needed, students can apply for extended funding or find their own funding.

The criteria for being eligible for funding are as follows: A GPA of 3.5 from an undergraduate institution (or 3.75 from a graduate program) or a combined (verbal and quantitative) GRE score of 1330 and analytic GRE score of 5.5.

Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience (PhD)

Offered by the Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences.

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants must submit a completed graduate application form, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for the General examination (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytic), three letters of recommendation, and copies of all college transcripts. Students are admitted for full-time study only.

Degree Requirements

  • 54 credit hours of approved graduate work, exclusive of PSYC-898/PSYC-899  
    • Students who have been admitted to the doctoral program in psychology but do not have an MA in psychology that has been accepted by the department must complete the degree requirements for the Psychology (MA) (thesis option) before they can be awarded the doctorate. Students required to complete the Psychology (MA) must take PSYC-797 (3 credit hours required), in the Laboratory Research area   
  • Students must take classes for a letter grade rather than pass/fail when the option exists 
  • Comprehensive exam: A student, with the help of his/her advisor, chooses a topic for specialization and forms a committee of at least four members (including the advisor), at least two of whom are full-time psychology faculty at American University. The student is given a written or oral examination on this topic prepared and scored by the committee members
  • Research Assurances and Research Ethics Training: Appropriate protocol review and oversight of faculty and student research is an essential component of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training on campus. All graduate students who are conducting research in partial fulfillment of a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation are required to participate in RCR training. Documentation of RCR training must be presented to the Doctoral Program Director with the completed dissertation proposal. BCaN students are responsible for obtaining the appropriate research assurances for research that involves human participants, animal subjects, or use of recombinant DNA, infectious materials, select or toxic agents, or human materials. Application forms and guidelines are available on AU's Research website. Copies of research assurances must be presented to the BCaN Director with the completed dissertation proposal 
  • Advancement to Candidacy: Students are considered "advanced to candidacy" (or "all-but-dissertation") when they have completed all required course credits; have passed their comprehensive exam; and have an approved dissertation proposal
  • Dissertation: A written proposal for the dissertation should be submitted to the dissertation committee by the middle of the second semester of the third year. The original proposal, or a revision thereof, should meet the requirements of the committee by the end of the second semester of the third year. The dissertation must be accepted by the dissertation committee, the department chair, and the university

Course Requirements

Required (12 credit hours)

Complete 12 credit hours from the following:

Statistics (6 credit hours)

Complete 6 credit hours from the following: 

Note: prerequisite statistics courses (STAT-500 - STAT-514) can be taken and may only count towards the Electives requirement. The program recommends that students with no background or prior courses in statistics take STAT-514 in addition to the required 6 credit hours of statistics courses

Seminars (6 credit hours)

Complete 6 credit hours from the following: 

Electives (6 credit hours)

Complete 6 credit hours from the following: 

Note: students may not use PSYC-799 to fulfill this area

Laboratory Research (18 credit hours)

Complete 18 credit hours from the following: 

Note: students may not use PSYC-799 to fulfill this area

Dissertation Research (6 credit hours)


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Applying to Grad School guidance from the American Psychological Association